The Democratic Party has learned two vitally important lessons since 2000.
1. Stand up for what you believe in. If you're going to be Republican Lite, people will just vote Republican.
2. Show up. You concede to the other side when you don't even try.
After 148 years, a Democratic candidate is showing up in Harrisonburg, VA. His name is Barack Obama.
'I just discovered that the last presidential candidate to be here was Stephen Douglas,' Obama told thousands of supporters in a boisterous field house. 'That's the guy who ran against Abraham Lincoln, if you haven't been following your history.'
It's a bit unclear how many candidates have come to the city, but it appears Douglas, in the election of 1860, was at least the last Democratic candidate to visit during a general election. According to the local newspaper, the Daily News-Record, Lincoln was not even on the ballot in the slave-owning state.
'It is a testimony to the path our country has traveled, that the last time a Democrat was here was Stephen Douglas and now the next presidential candidate is Barack Obama,' Obama said. 'That's a long distance to travel. That's a testimony to Virginia and a testimony to this country.'
Obama played to packed houses in Harrisonburg and here, where more than 20,000 waited for a chilly, evening rally in Harbor Park, the city's minor-league ballpark. In both places, enthusiastic supporters stood throughout his roughly half-hour stump speech.